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  • Benitez’s 63 sets early pace in Argentina

  • Two weeks ago, Isidro Benitez finished second in a Mexican Tour tournament, coming into this week in good form. (Media/PGA TOUR)
    Two weeks ago, Isidro Benitez finished second in a Mexican Tour tournament, coming into this week in good form. (Media/PGA TOUR)
  • In This Article
  • LUJAN, Argentina—Isidro Benitez’s career-low PGA TOUR Latinoamérica round is 64, something he did in both 2018 and 2019. Tuesday in the opening round of the Qualifying Tournament at the Country Club Las Praderas de Lujan, the 22-year-ld native of Puebla, Mexico, did that score one better. Benitez made four front-nine birdies and added five more on the back to shoot a 9-under 63, good for a two-shot lead over Argentina’s Exequiel Lopez. Bolivia’s Jose Luis Montano is three shots behind as players look to earn 2021-22 PGA TOUR Latinoamérica this week so they can play in the season-opening 115 Visa Argentine Open presented by Macro next.

    Benitez, whose lone Tour win came in Argentina, at the 2018 Visa Argentine Open, looked every bit like he’s ready to rejoin the Tour, where he has made 36 career starts since turning pro in 2017.

    “All day I hit it very solid. A 63, no matter where you are, tastes great,” said Benitez. “I know that I have been playing well, and throughout these months I have worked hard to achieve better results.”

    He’s also getting good vibes from his living situation this week. “Coming to Argentina will always be special for me. I’m staying where I was when I won. I can’t deny that it is going through my head to be at the Visa Argentine Open next week,” he noted. “But I have to control those emotions and focus on this tournament first.”

    Benitez certainly did that Tuesday, spreading his birdies out throughout his opening 18 holes, making birdies at Nos. 3, 4, 6 and 9 to turn in 32 strokes. On the back nine, he closed with a flourish, with birdies on Nos. 17 and 18 to go with those at 10, 12 and 14.
    “From the tee I played very well, but with the putter I was on fire,” Benitez added.

    Lopez set the early pace with his 7-under 65, the highlight of his round a 26-foot birdie make at No. 7. When the ball dropped, the Argentine was surprised. “I hit it pretty hard, and I thought it was too hard, but luckily it fell into the hole. That putt gave me a lot of confidence to confirm that my game plan is working.”

    Did you know Exequiel Lopez last season tied for seventh at the Argentina PGA TOUR Latinoamérica Qualifying Tournament? He fired rounds of 70-71-69-71 to tie with Oreste Focaccia. He went on to play in two regular season tournaments.
    Key Information

    How the Tournament Works
    Ninety-one players started the tournament Tuesday. Below is a breakdown of the various PGA TOUR Latinoamérica statuses available this week:

    Finish Position



    Exempt for the entire 2021-22 season

    2nd through 12th (no ties)

    Exempt through the reshuffle, which will occur approximately halfway through the season

    13th through 40th (plus ties)

    Conditionally exempt

    This is a 72-hole, no-cut event. There will be playoffs, if necessary, for the medalist position and for the 12th and final position available.

    Players in this week’s field come from 14 countries and territories: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Panama, Peru, Puerto Rico, South Korea, Sweden, United States and Venezuela.

    In 2019, Exequiel Lopez played in the Argentine Tour Qualifying Tournament at this course, and he won that tournament to secure status. “It is a course in which I usually play very well,” he said.

    Jose Luis Montano’s last full PGA TOUR Latinoamérica season came in 2019, when he made 13 starts and got to the weekend five times. A year ago, the Bolivian played in four tournaments, his top showing coming at the season-ending Bupa Championship in Mexico, a tie for 25th.

    Maximiliano Godoy had a slow start to his round, beginning par-bogey-bogey on his first three holes on the back nine at the Country Club Las Praderas de Lujan. After that opening, Godoy recovered nicely to play the final 15 holes in 4-under to post a 2-under 72.

    Two weeks ago, Isidro Benitez finished second in a Mexican Tour tournament, coming into this week in good form. He lost that tournament in a playoff to Manuel Torres. “But I felt very good about my game. It is a matter of patience, and the results will come,” he said.

    American Andrew Arft, a University of Central Florida product, has never made a PGA TOUR Latinoamérica appearance and has never played on a PGA TOUR-affiliated Tour. He goes into the second round tied for fourth, with six others. In 2019, Arft played on the Europro Tour, a tie for 10th at the Eagle Orchid Scottish Masters his best showing. Arft’s only other Qualifying Tournament start came on PGA TOUR Canada in 2018, when he tied for 65th while still an amateur, unable to secure playing status.

    Since PGA TOUR Latinoamérica’s inception, in 2012, Maximiliano Godoy has played at least three tournaments every year. Although he has never posted a victory, he has three runner-up finishes—the latest coming at the 2015 Abierto Mexicano de Golf. In his career, he has 111 tournament appearances.

    With 31 career starts to his credit, American Otto Black is hoping to return to PGA TOUR Latinoamérica for a third full season. He played 13 events in both 2018 and 2019 but only saw action in one tournament during the 2020-21 season.

    In March 2021, Otto Black earned Forme Tour status with his tie for sixth in Dothan, Alabama. He ended up not playing in any Forme Tour tournaments this year and has three career starts to his credit on that circuit. They all came in 2017.

    There are 20 Argentines in this week’s field. The following are their scores and positions through 18 holes:





    Exequiel Lopez

    65 (7-under)


    Maximiliano Godoy

    70 (2-under)


    Puma Dominguez

    70 (2-under)


    Franco Scorzato

    70 (2-under)


    Vicente Sequeira

    71 (1-under)


    Facundo Villanueva

    71 (1-under)


    Bernardo Bide

    71 (1-under)


    a-Aram Yenidejian

    71 (1-under)


    Lisandro Eyherabide

    72 (even)


    Luciano Giometti

    72 (even)


    Roman Rebora

    73 (1-over)


    Hernan Kranevitter

    73 (1-over)


    Alan Wagner

    73 (1-over)


    Matias Simaski

    74 (2-over)


    a-Matias Gramajo

    74 (2-over)


    Matias Lezcano

    74 (2-over)


    Horacio Carbonetti

    75 (3-over)


    Antonio Maciel

    76 (4-over)


    Jesus Montenegro

    77 (5-over)


    Mariano Benitez

    79 (7-over)


    “The short game is my strong suit, and at one point last year, I lost it.” –Isidro Benitez on his recent struggles

    “Last year I played very little, and this year I was able to compete in the middle of the year on the Argentine Tour. I had good results on that Tour, and I think that has been positive for my career.” –Exequiel Lopez

    “This is a course that suits my game very well. I know it quite well, and the times that I have had the opportunity to play on this golf course, it has been very good to me.” –Exequiel Lopez

    “Nothing really stuck out. I just stuck to my game plan and gave myself a lot of good looks.” –Otto Black

    “I’ve been feeling much better than I played all year. I had a really tough year. I’m just trying to make sure that I don’t get ahead of myself and think that I’ve found something, so to speak.” –Matt Ryan

    “We’re comfortable, and he’s a good green reader. He’s very calm, and he’s not afraid to speak his mind. He doesn’t speak any English. My Spanish is fine on the golf course, but we don’t have normal conversation. He’s a nice guy to be around. It’s pretty comfortable.” –Matt Ryan on his local caddie, Joaquin Duarte

    “My lag putting was pretty good. I took advantage of a couple of par-5s. I was in the fairway and on the green most of the day.” –Michael Buttacavoli

    “The temperature was perfect. It was hot yesterday and cooled down today. There is a lot of wind, and the fairways are firm. But the greens are soft, which makes it a little easier into the greens. As far as weather goes, you can’t ask for much better.” –Michael Buttacavoli

    First-Round Weather Report
    Sunny and pleasant. High of 82. Wind ENE at 7-11 mph.